Owner clears the air over pushy sales tactics

The regional head of a home appliance firm criticised for some of its salespeople's tactics has made a personal apology to the Wakefield family who spoke out about their experience.

HRV Nelson-Marlborough franchise owner David Atoa visited the home of Laurel and Andrew Ketel on Sunday evening with an apology they have "fully accepted".

Mrs Ketel, who last week told the Nelson Mail about the family's experiences being besieged by pushy HRV ventilation system salespeople, said yesterday that Mr Atoa arrived at their home with an apology and guarantees that changes would be made.

"He wasn't driving this for any publicity but I believe he was genuine and people should have a chance to right any wrongs," Mrs Ketel said.

The Ketels had been hounded by HRV telephone salespeople and felt the last straw was when they received an unsolicited visit by a company salesman. He finally left after being told by Mr Ketel in no uncertain terms that he had to get off the property.

They were told by phone and by the representative who visited that if they cared for their children's health they would install an HRV system.

The Ketels decided to go public about their experience which sparked a flurry of responses to the Mail from people who had endured similar tactics from HRV salespeople.

Mr Atoa said last week that the consultant in question had helped "thousands of families" in the Nelson region through direct, positive contact for many years but in this case he took responsibility for the way he delivered the message to the homeowner and the subsequent reaction.

He said yesterday that his personal visit to the Ketels was to show them some respect and to ensure they did not go through any further drama.

He said no company wanted the type of publicity HRV had received, especially when it had achieved successes.

"We've been doing this for a long time and the majority of people we've dealt with have been positive experiences.

"You don't build a business getting 5500 customers without driving that really well."

Mr Atoa said the issue with the Ketels had made the company look at itself and while he admitted "passion was no excuse for poor behaviour", the company was proud of its product. It used the direct marketing approach as a way to get its message across in a tough environment, but he conceded it was not a style that suited everyone.

Mr Atoa said the salesman who visited the Ketels still worked for the company, but would receive more training.

He said HRV was committed to being part of the Nelson community and supported the Asthma Foundation and the Parents Centre organisation.